Chosen by Tao Lin
In his new memoir, Trip, novelist Tao Lin explores how using psychedelic drugs reawakened his capacity to be enchanted by life. Below, the author of Taipei and Eeeee Eee Eeee names six books that also rearranged his understanding of the world.
When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone (Mariner, $15). Drawing on various evidence, including that until 12,000 years ago humans made only female figurines, Stone argues that civilization began with Goddess-worshipping societies. Per Stone, male-deitied, conquering societies emerged only about 7,000 years ago, eventually spawning the sexist Yahweh-based religions that now dominate global culture.
The Garden of Fertility by Katie Singer (Avery, $22). Singer argues that women, by charting temperature, cervical fluid, and cervix changes, can prevent pregnancy as effectively as the (toxic) pill does. But millennia of sexism has achieved the opposite of honoring the female cycle: “On the Pill,” she writes, “a woman’s reproductive system essentially shuts down, and she becomes available for sex all the time without the consequence of pregnancy. This is male fertility rhythm.”
Surviving Evil by Karen Wetmore (Manitou, $19). The sickening details of Project MKUltra, a secret CIA program in which LSD, Metrazol, and other drugs were tested on unwitting nonvolunteers, have never been covered by mainstream media. Wetmore, a victim, has dug up evidence implicating a Vermont mental hospital where, from 1952 to 1973, nearly 3,000 patients died.
Tending the Wild by M. Kat Anderson (Univ. of Calif., $35). For 12,000 years, the indigenous tribes of today’s California managed and tended their environment, living in increasingly refined symbiosis with countless life-forms. When European explorers arrived, they encountered a giant park-like flower-dominated garden.
Sisters of the Extreme edited by Cynthia Palmer and Michael Horowitz (Park Street, $20). An anthology subtitled Women Writing on the Drug Experience, with about 80 contributions, including Kathleen Harrison on Salvia divinorum, Ann Shulgin on MDMA-assisted psychotherapy, and Maya Angelou on cannabis.
Çatal Hüyük by James Mellaart (out of print). Çatal Hüyük was the largest settlement of the Neolithic era, and when Mellaart’s team excavated the site, they found that the inhabitants had been egalitarian and worshipped a female deity. Terence McKenna, a prominent advocate of psychedelics, theorized that Çatal Hüyükans used psilocybin-containing mushrooms.